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Important News, Belangrijke nieuws, Nouvelles importantes, Wichtige News, Fontos hírek, Importanti novit, Pomembne novice, Importante Notícias, Viktiga nyheter



Ing. Salih CAVKIC
Editor
by ORBUS.ONE
info@orbus.one
www.orbus.one


Prof. dr. Murray Hunter
University Malaysia Perlis


Eva MAURINA
20 Years to Trade Economic Independence for Political Sovereignty - Eva MAURINA

IN MEMORIAM

Aleš Debeljak +
In Defense of Cross-Fertilization: Europe and Its Identity Contradictions - Aleš Debeljak

ALEŠ DEBELJAK - ABECEDA DJETINJSTVA

ALEŠ DEBEJAK - INTERVJU; PROSVJEDI, POEZIJA, DRŽAVA


Rattana Lao
Rattana Lao holds a doctorate in Comparative and International Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and is currently teaching in Bangkok.


Bakhtyar Aljaf
Director of Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia



Rakesh Krishnan Simha
Géométrie variable of a love triangle – India, Russia and the US



Amna Whiston
Amna Whiston is a London-based writer specialising in moral philosophy. As a PhD candidate at Reading University, UK, her main research interests are in ethics, rationality, and moral psychology.



Eirini Patsea 
Eirini Patsea is a Guest Editor in Modern Diplomacy, and specialist in Cultural Diplomacy and Faith-based Mediation
.


Belmir Selimovic
Can we trust the government to do the right thing, are they really care about essential things such as environmental conditions and education in our life?



Manal Saadi
Postgraduate researcher in International Relations and Diplomacy at the Geneva-based UMEF University


doc.dr.Jasna Cosabic
professor of IT law and EU law at Banja Luka College,
Bosnia and Herzegovina


Aleksandra Krstic
Studied in Belgrade (Political Science) and in Moscow (Plekhanov’s IBS). Currently, a post-doctoral researcher at the Kent University in Brussels (Intl. Relations). Specialist for the MENA-Balkans frozen and controlled conflicts.
Contact: alex-alex@gmail.com



Dr. Swaleha Sindhi is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Administration, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India. Decorated educational practitioner Dr. Sindhi is a frequent columnist on related topics, too. She is the Vice President of Indian Ocean Comparative Education Society (IOCES). Contact: swalehasindhi@gmail.com


Barçın Yinanç
 It is an Ankara-based journalist and notable author. She is engaged with the leading Turkish dailies and weeklies for nearly three decades as a columnist, intervieweer and editor. Her words are prolifically published and quoted in Turkish, French an English.


 By İLNUR ÇEVIK
Modified from the original: They killed 1 Saddam and created 1,000 others (Daily Sabah)


Aine O’Mahony
Aine O'Mahony has a bachelor in Law and Political Science at the Catholic Institute of Paris and is currently a master's student of Leiden University in the International Studies programme.Contact: aine-claire.nini@hotmail.fr


Elodie Pichon

  Elodie Pichon has a  bachelor in Law and Political Science at the Catholic Institute of Paris and is currently doing a MA in Geopolitics, territory and Security at King's College London. Contact : elodie.pichon@gmail.com


Qi Lin

Qi Lin, a MA candidate of the George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs. Her research focus is on cross-Pacific security and Asian studies, particularly on the Sino-U.S. relations and on the foreign policy and politics of these two.


ALESSANDRO CIPRI
Born in Chile and raised in Rome, Alessandro Cipri has just finished his postgraduate studies at the department of War Studies of King's College London, graduating with distinction from the Master's Degree in "Intelligence and International Security".


Ms. Lingbo ZHAO
is a candidate of the Hong Kong Baptist University, Department of Government and International Studies. Her research interest includes Sino-world, Asia and cross-Pacific.
Contact: harryzhaolin@gmail.com

 

Hannes Grassegger
Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus are investigative journalists attached to the Swiss-based Das Magazin specialized journal.
 

Mikael Krogerus

Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus are investigative journalists attached to the Swiss-based Das Magazin specialized journal.
 

Michal Kosinski

Scientific analysis
 

Elodie Pichon,
Ms. Elodie Pichon, Research Fellow of the IFIMES Institute, DeSSA Department. This native Parisian is a Master in Geopolitics, Territory and Security from the King’s College, London, UK.



Djoeke Altena

Muhamed Sacirbey
Muhamed Sacirbey
Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey currently lectures on Digital-Diplomacy. "Mo" has benefited from a diverse career in investment banking & diplomacy, but his passion has been the new avenues of communication. He was Bosnia & Herzegovina's first Ambassador to the United Nations



Amanda Janoo
Amanda Janoo is an Alternative Economic Policy Adviser to governments and development organizations. Graduate from Cambridge University with an MPhil in Development Studies, Amanda worked at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)


Michael dr. Logies,

Germany


Endy Bayuni

The writer, editor-in-chief of The Jakarta Post, took part in the Bali Civil Society and Media Forum, organized by the Institute for Peace and Democracy and the Press Council, on Dec.5-6.


Élie Bellevrat
Élie Bellevrat is the WEO Energy Analysts


 Kira West
 Kira West is the WEO Energy Analysts


Victor Davis Hanson NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.


Alexander Savelyev - Chief Research Fellow at the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (Moscow, Russia). In 1989-1991 was a member of Soviet negotiating team at START-1 negotiations (Defense and Space Talks).


Ingrid Stephanie Noriega
Ingrid Stephanie Noriega is junior specialist in International Relations, Latina of an immense passion for human rights, democratic accountability, and conflict resolution studies as it relates to international development for the Latin America and Middle East – regions of her professional focus.


Syeda Dhanak Fatima Hashmi
Author is a Foreign Policy Analyst and Research Head at a think tank based in Islamabad. She has done Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) in Governance and Public Policy. Her areas of research include both regional as well as global issues of contemporary international relations.



Pia Victoria Poppenreiter
Davos: The Other Side of the Mirror
An “inventor, startup guru, conceptualist and CEO” hangs out at the world’s four-day power lunch



Jomo Kwame Sundaram,
a former economics professor, was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.


Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe. Earlier version published by the GeterstoneInstitute under the title France Slowly Sinking into Chaos


Mr. Masato Abe, specialist at the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific


Corneliu PIVARIU is highly decorated two star general of the Romanina army (ret.).
For the past two decades, he successfully led one of the most infuential magazines on geopolitics and internatinal relations in Eastern Europe – bilingual journal ‚Geostrategic Pulse’.


An early version of this text appeared as the lead editorial in the The Geostrategic Pulse (No. 268/20.11.2018), a special issue dedicated to the Centennial anniversary.



Malik Ayub Sumbal is an award winning journalist, co-founder of the CCSIS (Caucasus Center for Strategic and International Studies), and a presenter for the Beijing-based CGTN (former CCTV)


Tanvi Chauhan is a m the US-based Troy University. She is specialist on the MENA and Eurasia politico-military and security theaters.


Giorgio Cafiero 140


 
Ambassador (ret.) Dr. Haim Koren
is a former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt and South Sudan and Member of IFIMES Advisory Board


Elizabeth Deheza is a founder and CEO of the London-based, independent strategic intelligence entity DEHEZA,focused on Latin America and Caribbean.

Nora Wolf



Audrey Beaulieu



Cristina Semeraro

is an Analyst with the Rome-based Vision & Global Trends, International Institute for Global Analyses of Italy.


English
Important News


 


September
01.09. - 25.09.2020


 

International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES)[1] from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses developments in the Middle East, Balkans and around the world. Guido Lanfranchi, is an international affairs specialist based in Den Haag, Netherlands. In his text entitled “Political will is needed to foster multilateralism in Europe – Dr. Franz Fischler says” he is summarizing the speech of Dr. Franz Fischler, currently the President of the European Forum Alpbach, former Austria’s Federal Minister for Agriculture and Forestry (1989-1994) and former European Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries (1995-2004). 

 
           ● Guido Lanfranchi

Political will is needed to foster multilateralism in Europe – Dr. Franz Fischler says

On July 1st 2020, a large number of international affairs specialists gathered in Vienna, Austria, for the conference “From Victory Day to Corona Disarray: 75 Years of Europe’s Collective Security and Human Rights System”. The conference, jointly organized by four different entities (the International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies IFIMES, Media Platform Modern Diplomacy, International Scientific Journal European Perspectives, and Action Platform Culture for Peace) with the support of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, was aimed at discussing the future of Europe in the wake of its old and new challenges. 

The conference gathered over twenty high ranking speakers from Canada to Australia and audience physically in the venue while many others attended online – from Chile to Far East. The day was filled by three panels focusing on the legacy of WWII, Nuremberg Trials, the European Human Rights Charter and their relevance in the 21st century; on the importance of culture for peace and culture of peace – culture, science, arts, sports – as a way to reinforce a collective identity in Europe; on the importance of accelerating on universalism and pan-European Multilateralism while integrating further the Euro-MED within Europe, or as the Romano Prodi’s EU Commission coined it back in 2000s – “from Morocco to Russia – everything but the institutions”. 

The event itself was probably the largest physical gathering past the early spring lock down to this very day in this part of Europe. No wonder that it marked a launch of the political rethink and recalibration named – Vienna Process

Among the speakers for the conference’s third panel – which focused on universal and pan-European multilateralism – there was Dr. Franz Fischler, a well-known figure due to his previous postings as Austria’s Federal Minister for Agriculture and Forestry (1989-1994) and as European Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries (1995-2004), besides being currently President of the famous European Forum Alpbach. 


Photo IFIMES: Bakhatyar Aljaf (left), Dr Franz Fischler and Dr Zijad Bećirović

Dr. Fischler started his keynote speech by highlighting how the Covid-19 pandemic has the potential to fundamentally change Europe – and even the whole world. In doing so, he referred to the paradoxes outlined by Bulgarian intellectual Ivan Krastev in the wake of the pandemic. Contrasting pushes towards re-nationalization and globalization, the partial interruption of democracy but the decreasing appetite for authoritarian government, the mixed response of the European Union to the crisis – in short, a series of conflicting trends are making the future of Europe, as well as that of the whole world, very much uncertain. 

It was against this backdrop that Dr. Fischler addressed the central question of the panel: What is fundamentally going to happen in Europe in the times ahead? The former EU Commissioner clarified from the very beginning that those who wish a further deepening of the current multilateral system should not be blinded by excessive optimism. An alternative to the current system does exist – clearly symbolized by the combination of nationalism and populism that we can see in many countries, but also by the problems faced by multilateralism in many fields, most notably trade. 

This trend is evident in the case of the European Union too – Dr. Fischler warned. He highlighted that policy tools aimed at stimulating convergence across European countries, such as for instance the EU’s cohesion policies, are becoming increasingly weak, and inequality within the EU is currently on the rise. As a result, traditional goals such as the “ever closer Europe” and the “United States of Europe” do not even seem to be on the agenda anymore. 

What can then be done to deepen the EU’s integration process and strengthen Europe’s multilateral system? Towards the end of his speech, Dr. Fischler outlined a few entry points for reform and further cooperation. His suggestions revolved around increasing cooperation on a number of specific issues, ranging from high-tech research to the development of a common European passport. He also proposed that European countries should strengthen their common diplomatic initiatives, including by speaking with a single voice in international institutions, as well as increasing the EU’s soft power. On top of that, deeper institutional and political modifications might be needed for the EU, Dr. Fischler hinted – citing as examples the relaxation of the unanimity voting procedure on some foreign policy issues, as well as an intensification of the EU’s enlargement process. 

Closing his highly absorbing speech, Dr. Fischler – champion of multilateralism, and guru of the current EU CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) made clear which ingredient is, in his opinion, the cornerstone for reviving multilateralism in Europe: “All I would like to say is that there are possibilities out there. The question is, as always in these times: is there enough political will?

About the author:
Guido Lanfranchi is an international affairs professional based in Den Haag, Netherlands. He studied at the Leiden University and Sciences Po Paris, and got with the Council of the European Union in Brussels. His research focuses on the EU, the Middle East and Africa.

Ljubljana/Vienna/Den Haag, 25 September 2020 

Footnotes:
[1] IFIMES – International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN, New York, since 2018.


SEPTEMBAR, 25.09.2020

 

Europe and the world at 75:
An occasion for the EU to reaffirm its standing on Security policies and Human Rights

Vice-President of the EU Commission Margaritis Shinas was a keynote speaker at this summer’s Diplomatic Conference in Vienna organised by the International Institute IFIMES, Media Platform Modern Diplomacy and their partners. High dignitary of the Commission seized the occasion to express the EU’s take on the 75th anniversary of victory over fascism, unfolding health crisis and to it related pressure on human and labour rights, as well as on the Union’s continued efforts towards remaining a ‘rock’ amid the volatile climate.

 


 The EU Commission Vice-President Margaritis Shinas addressing the conference


It is known by now – and acknowledged by the EU Commission VP – that the COVID-19 crisis has had some severe implications for Human Rights and, to a lesser extent, for cooperation outlooks. In the face of the first wave, countries in Europe and elsewhere have adopted different courses of actions in order to manage the health crisis and attempt at containing its threats. Placed in an unprecedented situation, governments have undoubtedly each reacted in ways they deemed most appropriate at the time.

However, the pandemic itself topped with the varied policies have caused notable restrictions on Human Rights. Most notoriously, the right to life and that to health have been challenged in extreme circumstances where, at the peak of the crisis, health institutions were so overflowed that the provision of maximal care to every single individual was compromised. The effective and equal access to healthcare has therefore quickly become a central preoccupation of many governments, drawing on some dramatic first-hand experiences.

On that, I will say that if the global health crisis has been a synonym for many negative impacts, it has also been a precious opportunity to rethink carefully the existing narrative of programmatic and progressive rights – such as the right to health – needing no immediate attention, nor realisation. This narrative held predominantly by some Western democracies ever since the adoption of the UN International Covenants, has been unduly weakening the universal and indivisible stance of Human Rights. Needless to say, in adhering to that dangerous narrative, planning for and prioritizing health access, resources and system capabilities is undermined. This, in turn, contributes to the difficult and insufficient responses of some governments that have been witnessed. May the victims of inadequate infrastructures due to an obsolete distinction between rights serve as a poignant reminder: social, cultural and economic rights need be readily available to all.

Equally interesting is the toll taken on a whole other range of Human Rights – an international system built up in last 75 years on the legacy of victory of antifascist forces in Europe and elsewhere. Numerous individual freedoms have also suffered limitations, often as a direct result of actions taken to promote and ensure the right to life and the right to health for the most vulnerable. Indeed, people’s freedom of movement, that of religion (external dimension), that of assembly and association, as well as their procedural rights – only to name a few – have all been greatly affected during the crisis.

Of course voices have raised their discontent at those restrictions put in place to mitigate the crisis, considered by many to be too incisive and too manifold when cumulated. But despite an apparent clash between two groups of interests protected by different rights, the resolution which has emerged from the approaches followed by most countries is very telling. In fact, a balancing exercise revealed that protecting the right to health and to life of the minority of people ought simply to be considered predominant in comparison to the other individual freedoms and rights of the majority. This reasoning, grounded in solidarity and the protection of minorities and vulnerable persons, is in fact very encouraging in an era of growing individualism combined with overwhelming challenges which will certainly require peoples to unite against them.

Nevertheless, this does not take away from the fact that the full and optimal enjoyment of Human Rights has generally been seriously affected as many interests have been caught in the crossfire of the fight against Coronavirus’ harmful effects. Moreover, the crisis has also created some divides amongst European countries. This is because the sanitary emergency has caused for precarious contexts of resources shortages and sometimes unfruitful cooperation, even shift in alliances.

This has naturally brought about separate criticisms and questioning of the EU cooperation strategy and security arrangements. In that sense, growing expectations are felt for the EU to uphold and promote its fundamental values including the rule of law, solidarity, non-discrimination and antifascist line.

Vice-President Schinas is well aware of that reality and reiterates the EU’s unalterable commitment to peaceful cooperation, human dignity, liberty, equality and solidarity in these troubled times. He further ensures that the most recent security strategies led by the Union do not – and never will – eat away at the protection of fundamental rights. What is more, whilst the EU’s arrangements can be seen as slightly ‘under attack’ currently, the VP feels that rather than seeing this period as a high-stakes test on EU democracies it should be seen as an opportunity to take a bigger stand than ever for the European common values and call for strengthened multilateralism. This necessities constructive reciprocal and respectful active engagement with the EU Mediterranean and eastern European neighbourhood.

All that is because it is not too difficult to imagine that the aftermath of the C-19 crisis can open several paths of new dynamics in international relations. Yet, as it cannot be stressed enough, an upcoming change in the conception of relations between nations could be decisive for numerous other contemporary challenges – namely: migration crisis, armed conflicts, climate change. While one of the paths could consist in an increase in protectionism and nationalist attitudes, another one would involve, on the contrary, a shift towards reinforced cooperation and enhanced solidarity. The latter outward approach, advocated by the EU Vice-President and believed to be the best hope for the future, is one deeply enshrined in the antifascist legacy and the very raison d’être of the Union.

Above all, at the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Victory Day, Excellency Schinas reminds us with much humbleness that the journey for safeguarding Human Rights is one that is perpetually underway.


About the Author:

Nora Wolf, of the Kingston and of Geneva University is a Swiss-based International Politics & Economics specialist. Her expertise includes Human Rights, Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law in an inter-disciplinary fashion for the EU and the UN-related thinktanks and FORAs.
 




SEPTEMBAR, 18.09.2020


International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES)[1]  from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses developments in the Middle East, Balkans and also around the world. Prof. Dr. Manfred Nowak, professor of International Human Rights at the University of Vienna and Secretary General of the Global Campus of Human Rights prepared the speech entitled “Legacy of antifascism for the common pan-European future”. He is analysing the importance of all human rights for uniting Europe on the basis of common European values.

 

Legacy of antifascism for the common pan-European future

The first July day of 2020 in Vienna sow marking the anniversary of Nuremberg Trials with the conference “From the Victory Day to Corona Disarray: 75 years of Europe’s Collective Security and Human Rights System – Legacy of Antifascism for the Common Pan-European Future”. This was the first public and probably the largest conference in Europe past the early spring lockdown. It gathered numerous speakers and audience physically in the venue while many others attended online.

The conference was organised by four partners; the International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES), Modern Diplomacy, International scientific journal “European Perspectives”, and Culture for Peace, with the support of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna that hosted the event in a prestigious historical setting.

Media partners were diplomatic magazines of several countries, and the academic partners included over 25 universities from all five continents, numerous institutes and two international organisations. A day-long event was also Live-streamed, that enabled audiences from Chile to Far East and from Canada to Australia to be engaged with panellists in the plenary and via zoom. (the entire conference proceedings are available: First Panel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvlGydZDj6g&t=7059s, second and third panel ************************ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9il5GYYYPk&t=1390s).

Among 20-some speakers from Canada to Australia, talking in three event’s panels was also the bard of Human Rights law, Univ. Prof. Manfred Nowak. Hereby we are bringing the most relevant parts of his highly absorbing speech prepared exclusively for this conference. 

 From the Victory Day to Corona Disarray
75 years of Europe’s Collective Security and
Human Rights System


Legacy of antifascism for the common pan-European future
 
● Manfred Nowak[2]
(Exclusive speech for the Conference at the DAW, Vienna, 1 July 2020)

The post WWII architecture is a b and decisive reaction to the Great Depression, the rise of fascism, the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust. The United Nations, created in San Francisco on 26 June 1945, are built on three main pillars: Freedom from fear and violence, freedom from want and poverty, human rights and respect for human dignity. For the first time in human history, war has been prohibited in international law with only minor exceptions, namely the right of States to self-defence and the collective security system under the guidance of the UN Security Council. For the first time in human history, the promotion and protection of human rights were acknowledged as a legitimate goal of the international community and international law. For the first time in human history, the main perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity had been brought to justice before international military tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo. And for the first time in human history, economic and social development, prosperity and the eradication of poverty have been defined as goals of a new world order. These ambitious aims and objectives were only possible thanks to the antifascist consensus among the allies, which at that time seemed to be even ber than the differences between capitalism and communism. When the UN Human Rights Commission, the predecessor of the current Human Rights Council, drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights between 1946 and 1948, this antifascist consensus was still b enough to achieve a synthesis between the Western and the Socialist concepts of human rights. The Universal Declaration, solemnly adopted in Paris on 10 December 1948, contains civil and political rights together with economic, social and cultural rights and with the vision of a new “social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized” (Article 28).

As soon as the Human Rights Commission started to transfer this historic compromise between liberal freedoms and social security into a legally binding universal convention on human rights, the United States and its allies in 1951 forced a decision in the UN General Assembly to split human rights again into two categories, which dominated the ideological debates during the time of the Cold War. The International Bill of Rights, which was finally adopted after long negotiations in 1966, was divided into the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, favoured by the West, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, favoured by the Soviet Union and its allies. Civil and political rights and freedoms were conceived as immediately binding State obligations to respect and ensure the rights to life, personal liberty, privacy, security and integrity, freedom of expression, religion, assembly and association and the right to participate in democratic decision-making processes. Economic, social and cultural rights to work, fair, equal and healthy working conditions, social security, the rights to food, housing, health, education and an adequate standard of living, on the other hand, were conceived as mere “programme rights” to be achieved step by step through progressive implementation.

As WWII had started as a European war between fascist and democratic States, Europe felt a particular responsibility to prevent another war and catastrophe like the Holocaust through economic and political cooperation and the protection of human rights. While the European Communities of the 1950s aimed at preventing another war through economic integration, the Council of Europe was established already in 1949 as a political organization based upon human rights, pluralistic democracy and the rule of law. The Council of Europe was a Western European organization, which defended these “European values” against any form of totalitarianism, whether fascism (as practiced at that time in Spain and Portugal) or communism (as practiced in a growing number of Central and Eastern European States). By adopting the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in 1950, which only contained civil and political rights, the Council of Europe left no doubt that it was a Western organization, which did not feel bound by the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, as expressed in the Universal Declaration. Economic, social and cultural rights played and unfortunately still play in the Council of Europe a subordinate role. The European Convention with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which decides in a legally binding manner on tens of thousands of individual applications per year, is the light-tower of human rights protection in Europe, while the European Social Charter of 1961 and its monitoring system is much weaker and very little known to the public. Nevertheless, this is the time when the social welfare state, based on the economic policies of John Maynard Keynes, was developed in Western Europe, North America and other industrialized nations. The architects of the social welfare state or a market economy with a human face were, however, not even aware that they were implementing economic, social and cultural rights, as these rights were primarily associated with the Soviet Union and its allies. 

During the Cold War, human rights were the subject of fierce ideological battles between Western and Communist States, and to a lesser degree, the newly independent States of the Global South. Nevertheless, this was the time when human rights were codified at the universal and regional level. In addition of the two Covenants of 1966, the United Nations adopted a number of universal human rights treaties, such as the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1965, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979, the Convention against Torture of 1984 or the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989. These core human rights treaties are today almost universally ratified. On the regional level, the two most important treaties, which were largely based on the European Convention, are the American Convention on Human Rights of 1969 and the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981.

With the implosion of the Communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe and the velvet revolutions of 1989, which quickly led to the fall of the iron curtain and the end of the Cold War, a historic window of opportunity opened for a new world order based upon human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action promised a new era, based upon the equality, universality, indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, spear-headed by the newly created Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. For the first time, the collective security system of the UN Charter was applied in practice and led to new generations of peace-building missions with human rights components and peace-enforcement actions, which also tackled some of the worst human rights violations. Two ad-hoc international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda were established by the UN Security Council as the first ones after the Nuremberg and Tokyo military tribunals and led to the creation of a permanent International Criminal Court in 1998. In the same year, the 11th Additional Protocol to the ECHR entered into force and transformed the European Court of Human Rights into a full-time court which since then has delivered thousands of judgments every year, most of them in relation to the newly admitted former Communist States in Central and Eastern Europe. In 2000, the EU adopted a Charter on Fundamental Rights, and the United Nations adopted Millennium Development Goals, which promised a better future, above all for the poor and marginalized communities in the Global South. Despite the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which happened before the eyes of UN peacekeepers, one can conclude that never before were human rights advanced in such a quick, innovative and forceful manner than during the 1990s.

Let’s go back to 1989, which was a truly remarkable year in human history. In addition to the velvet revolutions, the world wide web was created, and with the “Washington Consensus”, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund agreed to adopt the neoliberal economic policies of privatization, deregulation and minimizing the role of the State, which had been advocated for many years by the Chicago School of Economics, thereby replacing the more interventionist economic policies of John Maynard Keynes. This meant that the rapid digitalization and globalization of our world were driven by neoliberal economic and financial policies. As a consequence, the historic opportunity of implementing a new world order inspired by universal human rights, democracy and the rule of law was soon replaced by a new world order driven by transnational corporations and global financial markets. On the one hand, these policies led to an unprecedented economic growth and global digitalization, which contributed to more prosperity and a significant reduction of poverty, above all in China, India and other Asian States. On the other hand, these policies led to a dramatic increase of economic inequality, which is undermining the social coherence and democratic values of our societies. Radical policies of privatization, which had started already in the US and the UK during the 1980s, include even core State functions, such as the military, intelligence, police, justice and prisons (rise of private military and security companies), as well as providing social security, pensions, health care and education. The policy of minimizing the role of the State, which is often imposed on governments by the international financial institutions, result in drastic reductions in social security and social welfare and undermine the obligation of States to protect and fulfil economic, social and cultural rights, but also civil and political rights. In this context, we observe the rising phenomenon of failed and fragile states, which lead to insecurity, armed conflicts, the rise of organized crime and terrorism. Finally, the deregulation of global financial markets led to unprecedented speculations, tax evasion, money laundering, corruption and the undermining of the banking system, which directly resulted in the global financial and economic crisis of 2008. There can also be no doubt that the neoliberal economic policies contributed significantly to the current climate crisis, the ruthless exploitation of nature, deforestation and the destruction of our environment. The slim neoliberal state has no longer the power and the political will to regulate and control transnational corporations and global financial markets, and international organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization or the European Union, which would have the power by concerted efforts to regain political control over global markets, are either at the forefront of neoliberal economic policies themselves or are increasingly undermined by nationalistic and populistic politicians. The Brexit, attacks by the Russian Federation against the Council of Europe, the sidelining of the United Nations in relation to the armed conflicts in Syria, Libya and other regions, and open attacks by the United States against the United Nations, its specialized agencies, such as the World Health Organization, or against the International Criminal Court are only a few symptoms of the current crisis of multilateralism.

The world was in disarray when the Corona virus appeared on the global agenda at the beginning of a new decade, and when the COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented lockdown of the global economy, a fundamental restructuring of our daily life and drastic restrictions of our most cherished human rights. Our world was certainly not well prepared to deal with this pandemic, which has caused already more deaths worldwide than the tsunami as the worst disaster of the 21st century. The most neoliberal States, such as the US, the UK and Brazil, which happen to be governed by politicians, who are used to “solve” crisis situations by spreading fake news and searching for scapegoats, seem to be hit most severely. In Europe, States which had cut down their public health and social security systems most radically, such as the UK, Italy and Spain, encountered much more serious problems to contain the spread of the virus than States, where the public health and social security systems had somehow survived neoliberal policies. Even politicians, who for many years had preached that free markets are much better equipped to solve problems than governments, realized that we need b and well-functioning States to take the necessary measures and that we should listen to experts rather than populists, fake news and social media in order to cope effectively with this pandemic. It is too early to draw far-reaching conclusions since we are still in the middle of this health crisis and do not know how the coming months will develop. Nevertheless, there is a growing awareness among the people, irrespective of their political opinions and political party alliances, that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way how we are living and that we need to drastically change our economic, political and social world order if we wish to ensure the survival of our planet and a healthy and satisfactory life for our children and future generations.

Where does this leave us with respect to the topic of this conference? What can we learn from this short historical overview for a pan-European future, built upon antifascism as a European confidence building block, mutual trust and good neighbourly relations? One conclusion is obvious: In order to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and other global challenges, such as the global climate crisis, growing economic inequality or global migration, we need to strengthen, rather than weaken, the regulatory functions of States and of international organizations, both at the global and regional (European) level. Secondly, we need to replace the neoliberal economic politics by a new and more social market economy “with a human face”, which is more responsible towards nature, towards economic equality and solidarity with the poor and marginalized sectors of our societies, at the national, regional (European) and global level. This also means that politics need to regain its power to control and regulate the economy, as has been well illustrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to use this new confidence in a responsible regulatory power of politics to also tackle other global threats, such as the climate crisis. At the same time, we need to strengthen the EU by transferring certain powers in the field of social justice, public health, environmental protection, asylum and migration policies from the member States to the EU institutions. The EU, which, despite the Brexit, is still a major global economic and political player, shall further be entrusted by its member States to pursue and strengthen these socially and ecologically sustainable politics also at the global level, above all in the international financial institutions and the WTO. 

With respect to the Council of Europe, which is a truly pan-European organization with currently 47 member States and a pioneer in international human rights protection, we need to introduce economic, social and cultural rights on an equal level with civil and political rights and try to overcome the deep distrust between the Russian Federation and Western European States. This requires confidence-building from both sides. The Council of Europe, as a Western European organization, had quickly opened its doors after 1989 and invited the former Communist States to join. Many States used the Council of Europe as an entry door for quick EU and/or NATO membership, which was not always properly coordinated with Moscow and led even to armed conflicts in Georgia and the Ukraine. Many “frozen conflicts” in Europe, such as Nagorno Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, Eastern Ukraine, Kosovo and the Republika Srpska, can only be solved if the Russian Federation is again better integrated into European politics. The Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), provide the necessary diplomatic platforms, but the political will for mutual confidence-building is still lacking. Antifascism is no longer a meaningful basis for a pan-European confidence block, and in fact it had played this role only for a few years immediately after WWII. If the Council of Europe, with the active support of the EU, would be able to build a pan-European social welfare system, which is based on the indivisibility of all human rights rather than on neoliberal economic policies, then it would resume its pioneering role as a political organization that is uniting Europe on the basis of common European values.

Ljubljana/Vienna, 29 July 2020

Footnotes:
[1] IFIMES – International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN, New York, since 2018.
[2] Manfred Nowak is Professor of Human Rights at Vienna University and Secretary General of the Global Campus of Human Rights, a network of 100 universities in all world regions, based in Venice. He founded and was the first director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights (BIM) in Vienna. In the past, Manfred Nowak has also carried out various expert functions for the United Nations, the Council of Europe (CoE), the European Union (EU) and other inter-governmental organizations including the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).




SEPTEMBAR, 18.09.2020


International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES)[1]  from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses developments in the Middle East, Balkans and also around the world. Prof. Dr. Manfred Nowak, professor of International Human Rights at the University of Vienna and Secretary General of the Global Campus of Human Rights prepared the speech entitled “Legacy of antifascism for the common pan-European future”. He is analysing the importance of all human rights for uniting Europe on the basis of common European values.

 

Legacy of antifascism for the common pan-European future

The first July day of 2020 in Vienna sow marking the anniversary of Nuremberg Trials with the conference “From the Victory Day to Corona Disarray: 75 years of Europe’s Collective Security and Human Rights System – Legacy of Antifascism for the Common Pan-European Future”. This was the first public and probably the largest conference in Europe past the early spring lockdown. It gathered numerous speakers and audience physically in the venue while many others attended online.

The conference was organised by four partners; the International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES), Modern Diplomacy, International scientific journal “European Perspectives”, and Culture for Peace, with the support of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna that hosted the event in a prestigious historical setting.

Media partners were diplomatic magazines of several countries, and the academic partners included over 25 universities from all five continents, numerous institutes and two international organisations. A day-long event was also Live-streamed, that enabled audiences from Chile to Far East and from Canada to Australia to be engaged with panellists in the plenary and via zoom. (the entire conference proceedings are available: First Panel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvlGydZDj6g&t=7059s, second and third panel ************************ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9il5GYYYPk&t=1390s).

Among 20-some speakers from Canada to Australia, talking in three event’s panels was also the bard of Human Rights law, Univ. Prof. Manfred Nowak. Hereby we are bringing the most relevant parts of his highly absorbing speech prepared exclusively for this conference. 

 From the Victory Day to Corona Disarray
75 years of Europe’s Collective Security and
Human Rights System


Legacy of antifascism for the common pan-European future
 
● Manfred Nowak[2]
(Exclusive speech for the Conference at the DAW, Vienna, 1 July 2020)

The post WWII architecture is a b and decisive reaction to the Great Depression, the rise of fascism, the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust. The United Nations, created in San Francisco on 26 June 1945, are built on three main pillars: Freedom from fear and violence, freedom from want and poverty, human rights and respect for human dignity. For the first time in human history, war has been prohibited in international law with only minor exceptions, namely the right of States to self-defence and the collective security system under the guidance of the UN Security Council. For the first time in human history, the promotion and protection of human rights were acknowledged as a legitimate goal of the international community and international law. For the first time in human history, the main perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity had been brought to justice before international military tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo. And for the first time in human history, economic and social development, prosperity and the eradication of poverty have been defined as goals of a new world order. These ambitious aims and objectives were only possible thanks to the antifascist consensus among the allies, which at that time seemed to be even ber than the differences between capitalism and communism. When the UN Human Rights Commission, the predecessor of the current Human Rights Council, drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights between 1946 and 1948, this antifascist consensus was still b enough to achieve a synthesis between the Western and the Socialist concepts of human rights. The Universal Declaration, solemnly adopted in Paris on 10 December 1948, contains civil and political rights together with economic, social and cultural rights and with the vision of a new “social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized” (Article 28).

As soon as the Human Rights Commission started to transfer this historic compromise between liberal freedoms and social security into a legally binding universal convention on human rights, the United States and its allies in 1951 forced a decision in the UN General Assembly to split human rights again into two categories, which dominated the ideological debates during the time of the Cold War. The International Bill of Rights, which was finally adopted after long negotiations in 1966, was divided into the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, favoured by the West, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, favoured by the Soviet Union and its allies. Civil and political rights and freedoms were conceived as immediately binding State obligations to respect and ensure the rights to life, personal liberty, privacy, security and integrity, freedom of expression, religion, assembly and association and the right to participate in democratic decision-making processes. Economic, social and cultural rights to work, fair, equal and healthy working conditions, social security, the rights to food, housing, health, education and an adequate standard of living, on the other hand, were conceived as mere “programme rights” to be achieved step by step through progressive implementation.

As WWII had started as a European war between fascist and democratic States, Europe felt a particular responsibility to prevent another war and catastrophe like the Holocaust through economic and political cooperation and the protection of human rights. While the European Communities of the 1950s aimed at preventing another war through economic integration, the Council of Europe was established already in 1949 as a political organization based upon human rights, pluralistic democracy and the rule of law. The Council of Europe was a Western European organization, which defended these “European values” against any form of totalitarianism, whether fascism (as practiced at that time in Spain and Portugal) or communism (as practiced in a growing number of Central and Eastern European States). By adopting the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in 1950, which only contained civil and political rights, the Council of Europe left no doubt that it was a Western organization, which did not feel bound by the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, as expressed in the Universal Declaration. Economic, social and cultural rights played and unfortunately still play in the Council of Europe a subordinate role. The European Convention with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which decides in a legally binding manner on tens of thousands of individual applications per year, is the light-tower of human rights protection in Europe, while the European Social Charter of 1961 and its monitoring system is much weaker and very little known to the public. Nevertheless, this is the time when the social welfare state, based on the economic policies of John Maynard Keynes, was developed in Western Europe, North America and other industrialized nations. The architects of the social welfare state or a market economy with a human face were, however, not even aware that they were implementing economic, social and cultural rights, as these rights were primarily associated with the Soviet Union and its allies. 

During the Cold War, human rights were the subject of fierce ideological battles between Western and Communist States, and to a lesser degree, the newly independent States of the Global South. Nevertheless, this was the time when human rights were codified at the universal and regional level. In addition of the two Covenants of 1966, the United Nations adopted a number of universal human rights treaties, such as the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1965, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979, the Convention against Torture of 1984 or the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989. These core human rights treaties are today almost universally ratified. On the regional level, the two most important treaties, which were largely based on the European Convention, are the American Convention on Human Rights of 1969 and the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981.

With the implosion of the Communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe and the velvet revolutions of 1989, which quickly led to the fall of the iron curtain and the end of the Cold War, a historic window of opportunity opened for a new world order based upon human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action promised a new era, based upon the equality, universality, indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, spear-headed by the newly created Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. For the first time, the collective security system of the UN Charter was applied in practice and led to new generations of peace-building missions with human rights components and peace-enforcement actions, which also tackled some of the worst human rights violations. Two ad-hoc international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda were established by the UN Security Council as the first ones after the Nuremberg and Tokyo military tribunals and led to the creation of a permanent International Criminal Court in 1998. In the same year, the 11th Additional Protocol to the ECHR entered into force and transformed the European Court of Human Rights into a full-time court which since then has delivered thousands of judgments every year, most of them in relation to the newly admitted former Communist States in Central and Eastern Europe. In 2000, the EU adopted a Charter on Fundamental Rights, and the United Nations adopted Millennium Development Goals, which promised a better future, above all for the poor and marginalized communities in the Global South. Despite the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which happened before the eyes of UN peacekeepers, one can conclude that never before were human rights advanced in such a quick, innovative and forceful manner than during the 1990s.

Let’s go back to 1989, which was a truly remarkable year in human history. In addition to the velvet revolutions, the world wide web was created, and with the “Washington Consensus”, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund agreed to adopt the neoliberal economic policies of privatization, deregulation and minimizing the role of the State, which had been advocated for many years by the Chicago School of Economics, thereby replacing the more interventionist economic policies of John Maynard Keynes. This meant that the rapid digitalization and globalization of our world were driven by neoliberal economic and financial policies. As a consequence, the historic opportunity of implementing a new world order inspired by universal human rights, democracy and the rule of law was soon replaced by a new world order driven by transnational corporations and global financial markets. On the one hand, these policies led to an unprecedented economic growth and global digitalization, which contributed to more prosperity and a significant reduction of poverty, above all in China, India and other Asian States. On the other hand, these policies led to a dramatic increase of economic inequality, which is undermining the social coherence and democratic values of our societies. Radical policies of privatization, which had started already in the US and the UK during the 1980s, include even core State functions, such as the military, intelligence, police, justice and prisons (rise of private military and security companies), as well as providing social security, pensions, health care and education. The policy of minimizing the role of the State, which is often imposed on governments by the international financial institutions, result in drastic reductions in social security and social welfare and undermine the obligation of States to protect and fulfil economic, social and cultural rights, but also civil and political rights. In this context, we observe the rising phenomenon of failed and fragile states, which lead to insecurity, armed conflicts, the rise of organized crime and terrorism. Finally, the deregulation of global financial markets led to unprecedented speculations, tax evasion, money laundering, corruption and the undermining of the banking system, which directly resulted in the global financial and economic crisis of 2008. There can also be no doubt that the neoliberal economic policies contributed significantly to the current climate crisis, the ruthless exploitation of nature, deforestation and the destruction of our environment. The slim neoliberal state has no longer the power and the political will to regulate and control transnational corporations and global financial markets, and international organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization or the European Union, which would have the power by concerted efforts to regain political control over global markets, are either at the forefront of neoliberal economic policies themselves or are increasingly undermined by nationalistic and populistic politicians. The Brexit, attacks by the Russian Federation against the Council of Europe, the sidelining of the United Nations in relation to the armed conflicts in Syria, Libya and other regions, and open attacks by the United States against the United Nations, its specialized agencies, such as the World Health Organization, or against the International Criminal Court are only a few symptoms of the current crisis of multilateralism.

The world was in disarray when the Corona virus appeared on the global agenda at the beginning of a new decade, and when the COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented lockdown of the global economy, a fundamental restructuring of our daily life and drastic restrictions of our most cherished human rights. Our world was certainly not well prepared to deal with this pandemic, which has caused already more deaths worldwide than the tsunami as the worst disaster of the 21st century. The most neoliberal States, such as the US, the UK and Brazil, which happen to be governed by politicians, who are used to “solve” crisis situations by spreading fake news and searching for scapegoats, seem to be hit most severely. In Europe, States which had cut down their public health and social security systems most radically, such as the UK, Italy and Spain, encountered much more serious problems to contain the spread of the virus than States, where the public health and social security systems had somehow survived neoliberal policies. Even politicians, who for many years had preached that free markets are much better equipped to solve problems than governments, realized that we need b and well-functioning States to take the necessary measures and that we should listen to experts rather than populists, fake news and social media in order to cope effectively with this pandemic. It is too early to draw far-reaching conclusions since we are still in the middle of this health crisis and do not know how the coming months will develop. Nevertheless, there is a growing awareness among the people, irrespective of their political opinions and political party alliances, that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way how we are living and that we need to drastically change our economic, political and social world order if we wish to ensure the survival of our planet and a healthy and satisfactory life for our children and future generations.

Where does this leave us with respect to the topic of this conference? What can we learn from this short historical overview for a pan-European future, built upon antifascism as a European confidence building block, mutual trust and good neighbourly relations? One conclusion is obvious: In order to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and other global challenges, such as the global climate crisis, growing economic inequality or global migration, we need to strengthen, rather than weaken, the regulatory functions of States and of international organizations, both at the global and regional (European) level. Secondly, we need to replace the neoliberal economic politics by a new and more social market economy “with a human face”, which is more responsible towards nature, towards economic equality and solidarity with the poor and marginalized sectors of our societies, at the national, regional (European) and global level. This also means that politics need to regain its power to control and regulate the economy, as has been well illustrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to use this new confidence in a responsible regulatory power of politics to also tackle other global threats, such as the climate crisis. At the same time, we need to strengthen the EU by transferring certain powers in the field of social justice, public health, environmental protection, asylum and migration policies from the member States to the EU institutions. The EU, which, despite the Brexit, is still a major global economic and political player, shall further be entrusted by its member States to pursue and strengthen these socially and ecologically sustainable politics also at the global level, above all in the international financial institutions and the WTO. 

With respect to the Council of Europe, which is a truly pan-European organization with currently 47 member States and a pioneer in international human rights protection, we need to introduce economic, social and cultural rights on an equal level with civil and political rights and try to overcome the deep distrust between the Russian Federation and Western European States. This requires confidence-building from both sides. The Council of Europe, as a Western European organization, had quickly opened its doors after 1989 and invited the former Communist States to join. Many States used the Council of Europe as an entry door for quick EU and/or NATO membership, which was not always properly coordinated with Moscow and led even to armed conflicts in Georgia and the Ukraine. Many “frozen conflicts” in Europe, such as Nagorno Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, Eastern Ukraine, Kosovo and the Republika Srpska, can only be solved if the Russian Federation is again better integrated into European politics. The Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), provide the necessary diplomatic platforms, but the political will for mutual confidence-building is still lacking. Antifascism is no longer a meaningful basis for a pan-European confidence block, and in fact it had played this role only for a few years immediately after WWII. If the Council of Europe, with the active support of the EU, would be able to build a pan-European social welfare system, which is based on the indivisibility of all human rights rather than on neoliberal economic policies, then it would resume its pioneering role as a political organization that is uniting Europe on the basis of common European values.

Ljubljana/Vienna, 29 July 2020

Footnotes:
[1] IFIMES – International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN, New York, since 2018.
[2] Manfred Nowak is Professor of Human Rights at Vienna University and Secretary General of the Global Campus of Human Rights, a network of 100 universities in all world regions, based in Venice. He founded and was the first director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights (BIM) in Vienna. In the past, Manfred Nowak has also carried out various expert functions for the United Nations, the Council of Europe (CoE), the European Union (EU) and other inter-governmental organizations including the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).




SEPTEMBAR, 18.09.2020


AI (ARTIFICAL INTELLIGENCE): THE ITALIAN NATIONAL STRATEGY REVISITED

Increasing trust in and adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are necessary ingredients for economic growth and the fuel for future innovations that can benefit society as a whole. In this complex context which stimulates and promotes the use and dissemination of AI technologies, also Italy has developed its AI national strategy as part of the Coordinated Plan launched by the European Commission in December 2018. Over the period until now, the Italian government has stressed the importance of discussing about the specific approach that the country should adopt to fully benefit from the advantages of AI, while mitigating the risks that are often associated with its use. As prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic pointed out in his report: “Artificial Intelligence is essentially a dual-use technology and its mighty implications, either positive or negative, will be increasingly hard to anticipate, frame, and restrain, let alone mitigate and regulate” (The answer to AI is intergovernmental Multilateralism, New Europe, Brussels, March 2020).

Therefore, a national strategy is more than ever essential because AI can represent the starting point for a new edge filled with economic, social and cultural prosperity for Italy. To date, the country has been struggling to keep up with the other major European economies either from the point of view of the industrial production or companies competitiveness.

To make the matter worse, the Italian economy does not seem to be heading towards an important sustainable development yet, which represents a long-standing issue for its society: the growing poverty and the inequality go hand in hand with an increasing gap between North and South and a b need for investments in infrastructures and social and environmental policies. In sight of this, Italy is leverage the development of AI and related digital technologies to earn a golden opportunity in inaugurating a new social, economic and environmental “spring”.

The official document picturing the national strategy – performed by an experts team at ministry of Economic Development – consists of three parts: the first one shows an analytical overview upon the global market, with a focus on the European and national framework in terms of AI; the second part itemises the paramount principles of the strategy which inspired the experts in formulating the proposals: humanism (human beings at the centre), reliability and sustainability; the third and last part examines the policy to be adopted and sets out the proposals for the implementation, monitoring and communication of the Italian strategy.

In detail, the work of the experts has drawn up 82 proposals (also called “recommendations”) which take into account the peculiarities of the Italian system and tend to reconcile the international competitiveness with a sustainable development, in compliance with the European guidelines for a reliable, resilient and anthropocentric AI. These proposals/recommendations have, specifically, the purpose of “allowing Italy to start a phase of economic, social and environmental renaissance, marked by a focus on sustainability and by the digital transformation of the institutional and socio-economic business of the country”.

Below, an excerpt of the most significant proposals – in my opinion – contained in the Italian AI strategic plan.

Recommendation 3

In line with the European trends, the primacy of the human being over AI technology is affirmed and must be understood as a support to humans and not a substitute for them.

Recommendation 5

The Italian strategy puts its focus on embedded AI (as known also as “edge AI”), or those artificial intelligence systems that are present directly on the device (embedded, precisely). In the broadest terms, Embedded Intelligence is the definition of a self-referential process in which a specific system or program has the ability to analyse and refine its operations on its own.

Recommendation 10

It promotes the institution of a central body for the coordination of European initiatives and the definition of a national pattern for AI technologies development.

Recommendations from 11 to 16

Italy must invest in digital education by promoting up-to-date and qualified classes of teachers and learners on the subject of digital technologies, inaugurating new national degree courses on AI and up-skilling and re-skilling the workforce. This latter will allow an increasing number of people a job opportunity in this new technological field.

Recommendations 23 and 27

These proposals encourage information campaigns – both in Italian and English language – in order to make the national population aware of the main characteristics, opportunities and risks determined by the use of AI. In support of these recommendations, the Government will create a national platform – accessible to all citizens – as a permanent consultation/information tool on AI issues.

Recommendation 29

Italy should adopt the Trustworthy AI Impact Assessment (TAIA), currently studied at European level, as a risk assessment tool. The “actors” – those ones who use AI technologies – will perform a real risk assessment by identifying, first, the risks deriving from their activity and then indicating the strategies adopted to mitigate negative impacts.

Recommendation 38

The experts have highlighted the advantages through the creation of an Italian Institute for Artificial Intelligence (IIIA) for the research and the transfer of AI applications to companies and the Public Administration.

Recommendations 47-48

These recommendations are aimed at enhancing public tools (such as development contracts and innovation agreements) to support investments and strengthen public and private support for venture capital.

Recommendations from 55 to 68

It is a group of recommendations with a focus on data, on the optimization of their collection and subsequent management.

Recommendations from 69 to 75

These proposals are dedicated to sustainable AI, in full alignment with the European guidelines. The Government will work on a regulation which will ensure a sustainable development in support of the energy sector, disabled people and disadvantaged ranks. Another noteworthy purpose is the national prestige that Italy will straighten in the international competitiveness in terms of AI. Not by chance, several countries are making significant investments in AI, especially for military purposes, and it undoubtedly shows up how each of them is b-willed to achieve a leadership in the AI field.

The document ends with an annex that points out the investment planned to implement the AI strategy. It counts 888 million for the first five years, in addition to another 605 million (121 per year) from private contributions.

“The disclosure of this ambitious strategic plan suggests an unprecedented and responsible use of Artificial Intelligence, lighting the way for a leap towards new levels of efficiency and sustainability for Italian businesses” said Mirella Liuzzi, Undersecretary at ministry of Economic Development. “The goal – she added – “is to gather the benefits that AI can bring to the country, with an approach that includes technology and sustainable development and always puts the individual and his context at the centre”.

However, in order to put into effect the above mentioned proposals and the overall efforts made, it is essential to better coordinate all the AI stakeholders, to distribute funding fairly and avoid waste of money.


About the author:



Cristina Semeraro is an Analyst with the Rome-based Vision & Global Trends, International Institute for Global Analyses of Italy.


SEPTEMBAR, 15.09.2020


 

Of Privacy, EU and of Human Rights – 75 years After

By Nora Wolf
 

Early summer days of 2020 in Vienna sow marking the anniversary of Nuremberg Trials with the conference “From the Victory Day to Corona Disarray: 75 years of Europe’s Collective Security and Human Rights System – Legacy of Antifascism for the Common Pan-European Future”. This was the first public and probably the largest conference in Europe past the early spring lockdown. It gathered numerous speakers and audience physically in the venue while many others attended online.

The conference was organised by four partners; the International Institute IFIMES, Media Platform Modern Diplomacy, Academic Journal European Perspectives, and Action Platform Culture for Peace, with the support of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna that hosted the event in a prestigious historical setting.

Media partners were diplomatic magazines of several countries, and the academic partners included over 25 universities from all 5 continents, numerous institutes and 2 international organisations. A day-long event was also Live-streamed, that enabled audiences from Chile to Far East and from Canada to Australia to be engaged with panellists in the plenary and via zoom. (the entire conference proceedings are available: https://www.facebook.com/DiplomaticAcademyVienna

Among 20-some speakers from Canada to Australia, talking in three event’s panels was also the well know author and Human Rights activist Dr. Lizzie O’Shea. This text is a brief reference on her highly anticipated and absorbing speech prepared exclusively for this conference.

Some argue that with the advent of the numeric age, privacy is dead and the sooner we accept it; the sooner we can all move past our frivolous concerns of personal data misuses and what is really just a reluctance on our part to change. As such, privacy decline and the related loss of control would merely constitute an inevitable consequence of the world’s digitalization.

Others seem to think that Europe is at the forefront of the fight to preserve its constituents’ privacy – GDPR, after all, is proof of that. Moreover, article 8 of the ECHR combined with the Court’s evolutionary jurisprudence on the topic are robust safeguards in place ensuring that people’s privacy remains bulletproof and a top priority.

While it is true that on the outset Europe has been conceived as a ‘leader’ for its – at the time undoubtedly ground-breaking – Data Protection Regulation Act and other national initiatives stemming from the consolidated efforts of EU institutions, such a crucial multi-dimensional and far-reaching right as privacy requires more steps from each governments, we argue here.
 


Lizzie O’Shea addressing the Conference

 

First, in our ever-fast-changing digital world, where privacy is threatened in more ways than we could predict, it is the States’ place to be in the first line of defence:  they shall be accountable and actively responsible for the protection – or lack thereof – of their citizens’ privacy. Indeed, State obligations remains unchanged, that is to respect, protect and fulfil. Needless to say, the heavy and complex task of defending the integrity of one’s privacy, surely, cannot simply fall onto each and every individual’s shoulders.

That being said, if and when governments decide to get more involved and concerned with overall privacy challenges we face, a risk of considerable concentration of power arises and ought to be managed as well.

Lizzie O’Shea, Human Rights lawyer and writer, effectively underlines some of the shortcomings of the current EU approach to privacy in her intervention during the Vienna Diplomatic Conference of July 2020. More precisely, she hints at the dangers of the current power balance being held by Governments and the absence of a corresponding amount of accountability. She suggests that it reflects an overwhelming trust of the people in their State leading to an erosion of any culture of criticism. This phenomenon of “complacency”, as O’Sheal phrases it, whilst seemingly perhaps counter-intuitive, is not in fact desirable. Criticism of one’s own government policies and, thereby entertaining public debates on State strategies, is an essential component of militant democracies and vital contribution to checks and balances.

Even more pressing, another consequence derived from the current European States’ penchant for power monopoly in deciding privacy management is the wide door opened to state surveillance and abuses. Let us be clear: GDPR is of no help in terms of citizens’ safeguards against governmental intrusions in privacy and abusive use of personal data. This is why it is time to remind ourselves that protection of our fundamental right to privacy ought to be guaranteed against businesses, other private parties, and State actions.

Another criticism that aims to be constructive for the further shaping of our European approach to privacy is the common restricted conception of privacy as a B2C relationship. The GDPR’s architecture revolves around the assumption that privacy issues solely regard individual rights, individual situations, and individual informed consent. There is no acknowledgment of, or infrastructures related to, any type of collective dimension. And while there is no question that individual, case-by-case informed consent represents a corner-stone in privacy protection policies, it is also insufficient in view of the overall goal that is to build a global online community that respects privacy in its fullest form.

So how can we truly be content with an individualistic-only, corporates are the villains-only plan to counter and mitigate the multiplying threats to our wholesome privacies? Perhaps this will serve as food for thoughts and refuel some welcome public debate on the matter.


About the Author:


Nora Wolf, of the Kingston and of University of Geneva is a Swiss-based International Politics & Economics specialist. Her expertise includes Human Rights, Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law in an inter-disciplinary fashion for the EU and the UN-related thinktanks and FORAs.


SEPTEMBAR, 04.09.2020


 

International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES)[1] from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses developments in the Middle East, the Balkans and around the world. Ambassador (ret.) Dr. Haim Koren, Member of IFIMES Advisory Board and Ambassador Gideon Behar, special envoy for climate change and sustainability at the Israeli Foreign Ministry prepared comprehensive analysis entitled “Security in the Shadow of Climate Change in the Sahel”. They are analysing climate change as a significant risk multiplier in the field of stability and terrorism in the Sahel region.

 


Ambassador (ret.) Dr. Haim Koren
Member of IFIMES Advisory Board 

Ambassador Gideon Behar
 


Security in the Shadow of Climate Change in the Sahel

 


Map of the Sahel. From Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0

 

The Sahel[2] zone in Africa is one of the most sensitive area in the world to climate changes and desertification processes. Currently, it is experiencing extremely rapid population growth and a growing wave of immigration, and at the same time, a significant deterioration in security and the governance. This is evidenced by the significant strengthening of terrorist organizations in recent years, such as Boko Haram around Lake Chad and the Islamic State (AQIM), which is concentrated in Mali and Mauritania, as well as a variety of other terror organizations that belong to various Islamist streams.

Alongside these major terrorist organizations, which are now established and gaining strength, there are dozens of other armed groups, which are overtaking vast territories in the region. Some of them are involved in terrorism, others in crime, and some in both.[3]  At the same time, violent conflicts are multiplying between herders and local peasants over the diminishing resources of water and fertile soil for pasture and agriculture.[4] These conflicts cause the death of many thousands every year, and are changing the social, ethnic, religious, and even geographical structure of the desert frontier regions in Africa.

The significance of the connection between climatic-environmental crises and the threat to the livelihood resources of the population and its security and the escalation of terrorism has become increasingly evident in academic research and among international observers.[
5] The present understanding is that the measures taken against security instability and terrorism should also include international aid, local development, and the creation of sources of livelihood for the population. The purpose here is to examine the connection between climate change and desertification in the Sahel and the security and terrorism challenges that exist in the area. We shall discuss three security challenges, namely, that of Boko Haram around Lake Chad, al-Qaʿida in the Maghreb (AQIM), and the conflicts between herders and farmers.

Historically, the western part of the Sahel was sometimes known as the Sudan region (bilād as-sūdān, lit.”
lands of the blacks”). This belt was roughly located between the Sahara and the coastal areas of West Africa.[5] The Sahel region in Africa is comprised of a belt up to 1,000 km (620 mi) wide that spans 5,400 km (3,360 mi) from east to west.[6]

The Lake Chad region provides a good example of the connection between climate change and environmental degradation and the rise of terrorism and general insecurity. It has experienced an extremely high population growth of over three percent per year in recent decades. As a result, the area's population has grown to approximately 40 million people, exerting massive pressure on natural resources, especially water for agriculture, pasture, and the Lake’s fish stocks.[
7] Residents suffer from extreme poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition and hunger, high unemployment, and a long history of local conflicts. Their primary source of livelihood used to be Lake Chad, which provided them with a substantial portion of their food resources, such as proteins from fishing, food from crops and pastures, and drinking water for livestock. It provided ecological services, employment, and food to all the neighboring surroundings. However, the combination of a decrease in precipitation and a rise in temperature alongside the shortening of the rainy season, drought, and over-irrigation, has led to an extensive drying up of the Lake. The Lake once covered an area of approximately 25,000 square kilometers, and now only covers less than a tenth of that.

Boko Haram was founded in 2002 and, since then, has taken over extensive areas in Nigeria (where it originated and developed), Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. The organization holds an extremist Islamist ideology, and its overarching goal is to establish an Islamic caliphate. It is responsible for the death of tens of thousands of people and millions of refugees. In the process it has taken over resources, both legal (land, crops, trade) and illegal (drugs, weapons, and smuggling). Boko Haram is a clear example of a terrorist organization flourishing in a climate crisis area.

Inadequate resources and access to water and arable land, together with climate change have exacerbated the consequences of desertification, which include increasing sandstorms, accelerated dehydration of cultivated areas, and increasingly frequent waves of locusts in recent years, including this year. (They have not yet reached Lake Chad but are already nearby.) Together, these forces amplify the problem of refugees and displaced persons, which has escalated because of the terror activity of Boko Haram. At the same time, the central governments of the countries on the shores of the Lake have weakened, and a governmental vacuum emerged, as will be elaborated on later, which Boko Haram was quick to fill. The social divisions in the area are exploited by the organization to impart a sense of belonging to those who join it. Indeed, many of its recruits are refugees who have been forced by climate and environmental degradation to leave their homes. Boko Haram provides food and employment to those who join its ranks and who were pushed by the desperate situation to adopt its extreme ideology. The current Covid-19 crisis is, in addition, exacerbating the problem of lack of governance around Lake Chad and strengthening Boko Haram.[
8]

Another Islamist organization that thrives in areas affected by climate change is al-Qaʿida in the Maghreb, which has been active in Mali, Niger, and Mauritania,[
9] and has recently significantly expanded into Burkina Faso.[10]  This semi-arid area is undergoing a significant climate change process, which is manifested by drought, declining rainfall, and rising temperatures. It is simultaneously undergoing a distinct desertification process caused by deforestation, overgrazing, and loss of soil as a result of various factors including: wind drift, and the depletion of surface and subterranean water sources.[11] AQIM has been active in numerous terrorist activities against governmental and United Nations forces, as well as the civilian population. For example, AQIM carried out the mass shooting at Mali’s Raddison Blu Hotel in November 2015, the hostage crisis at Burkina Faso’s Splendid Hotel in January 2016, and the bombing of a French-UN military base in Mali in January 2017 - just to mention few of its most well-known attacks.[12

The regimes in the Sahel region in most cases are characterized by inherent weakness, an inability to influence considerable territories in their countries, and a lack of resources and funds. Thus, their ability to cope with the environmental crises of climate change and desertification is minimal. Population growth in these countries is one of the highest in the world, and places an additional burden on the natural systems, which are cracking already under the increasing human pressure to provide more resources. To illustrate that, we may point to the incredible fact that almost 24 percent of the global demographic increase between now and 2050 will occur in ten of the eleven countries located in the Sahel area.[
13]  This population growth also makes it extremely difficult for governments to provide services and support to the population. It is not surprising that in recent years there have been intensifying waves of immigration from the countries of the region by migrants in search of a better future. The Sahel states have become easy prey for various terrorist organizations, armed gangs, criminal organizations, and smugglers. Amid little to no protection or security afforded by the governments in the area, residents are forced to establish local protection organizations.

Alongside the well-known large terrorist organizations and the dozens of various armed organizations throughout the vast area of the Sahel, the struggle for a livelihood, which depends on grazing land and water for both herders and farmers, has intensified in recent decades.[
14]  With the Sahara spreading southward continuously for decades into many areas along the Sahel strip herders are pushed toward the more fertile areas where they collide with farmers, and trample the fields with their herds. They also are known to burn and plunder entire settled villages. There is ahistorical background to these conflicts. In the case of Nigeria and Mali, for example, the herders belong to the Fulani People. The Fulani Jihad in the years 1804-1808 led by Uthman Dan Fudio against the Hausa Kingdoms in Northern Nigeria. This tradition continues to inspire certain groups in the Sahel region.[15

In some cases, the nomads are Muslims and the farmers are Christians. The struggle for a livelihood thus involves, in that respect, a salient dimension of ethnic and religious differences. Therefore, the dividing lines between the various groups are not limited to the struggle for a livelihood - farmers versus herders - but also include ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic, and other markers of identity.

Formerly agricultural areas have become grazing areas, and this has caused a decline in the receding vegetation cover. The uncontrolled grazing accelerates the desertification processes and makes way for a prairie land covered by grass in formerly inhabited land abandoned by farmers. Thus, we are witnessing a very significant process that has the power to change the ethno-religious composition of the Sahel region, as well as its geography.

This situation is of great concern to the countries of the region, as well as to the international community, which are required to become more involved and invest effort in stabilizing the region. There is a growing recognition that the challenges of terrorism and instability in the Sahel cannot be addressed only by military means or security tools. Other tools and alternative approaches are needed. The position paper prepared by the ADELPHI Research Institute for the G7 countries on strengthening security in the Sahel recommends several steps, including strengthening governments and government institutions, developing an adaptation to climate change in the field of food and water security, economic development and international aid, including humanitarian, establishing local conflict resolution mechanisms, strengthening the resilience of cities to the effects of climate change, increasing long-term financing, developing an early warning capability for natural disasters, and implementing a procedure for drawing lessons from events.[
16]

The promoting of adaptation to climate change aims to reduce conflicts. An additional factor required is a better understanding of the local situation in order to, strengthen the actions of governments and local government. Local policymakers can also improve access to natural resources, and help communities develop multiple livelihoods, such as the production of renewable energy, and the restoration of water, land and agricultural areas. In addition, they should adopt a long-term commitment to build cooperation and trust between locals and international aid agencies. This trust is required to gain long-term stability. [
17]

In conclusion, climate change is a significant risk multiplier in the field of stability and terrorism in the Sahel region.[
18] The situation will likely worsen as the combination of climate change, lack of resources, subsistence shortage, and inadequate development policy continue to undermine security and provide opportunities for terrorist organizations.[19] In fragile countries such as those in the Sahel region, which suffer from a wide range of problems, international assistance is a significant component in maintaining security and stability. Solutions to these problems must also include humanitarian and economic components to help local communities adapt to climate change, increase the cultivation of agricultural areas in arid areas, and promote the intelligent use of the limited environment and natural resources. Likewise, it may be possible to improve security in the Sahel and stall the rise in terrorism, crime, and the lack of governmental stability.

About the authors:
Dr. Haim Koren is a Lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. Former Israeli Ambassador to South Sudan and Former Ambassador to Egypt. He is IFIMES Advisory Bord.
Gideon Behar is the special envoy for climate change and sustainability at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, former head of the Africa Division, former ambassador to Senegal and West Africa and former Director of the Department for Combating Antisemitism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel.

First published at Moshe Dayan Center (MDC).

Ljubljana/Jerusalem, 23 August 2020

Footnotes:
[1] IFIMES International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN, New York, since 2018.
[2] The name is derived from the Arabic term sāḥil (ساحل) for "coast, shore" as being used in a figurative sense (reference to the southern edge of the vast Sahara).
[3] Erik Alda and Joseph Sala, "Links Between Terrorism Organized Crime and Crime: The Case of the Sahel Region", Stability: International Journal of Security and Development, Vol. 3, No.1, 2014.
[4] Henry Noël Le Houérou, The grazing land ecosystems of the African Sahel‏, Berlin: Springer Verlag, 2012.
[5] Ahmed S. Hashim, Grégoire Patte and Nathan Cohen, "The Geography of Terror in the Sahel", Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, Vol. 4, No. 5, May 2012, pp. 11-17.
[6] Nehemia Levtzion, "Islam in the Bilad al-Sudan to 1800" in: N. Levtzion and R. L. Powels (Eds.) The History of Islam in Africa, Ohio: Ohio University press, 2012, pp. 63-91.
[7] Alfred Thomas Grove, "Geographical Introduction to the Sahel", The Geographical Journal, Vol. 144, No. 3, Nov 1978, pp. 407-415.
[8] Alfred Thomas Grove, "Geographical Introduction to the Sahel", The Geographical Journal, Vol. 144, No. 3, Nov 1978, pp. 407-415.
[9] BBC News, "Boko Haram: State of emergency declared around Lake Chad ", November 9, 2015.
[10] Julie Coleman, Méryl Demuynck, "The Death of Droukdel: Implications for AQIM and the Sahel ", ICCT, June 9, 2020.
[11] Tim Lister, "Burkina Faso attack confirms al Qaeda revival in Africa," CNN, January 16, 2016. See also, Stefan Goertz and Alexander E. Streitparth, The New Terrorism: Actors, Strategies and Tactics, (Urdorf, Switzerland: Springer Nature, 2019).
[12] Jacob Zenn and Colin P. Clarke, "Al Qaeda and ISIS Had a Truce in Africa—Until They Didn’t," Foreign policy, May 26, 2020.
[13] Mapping Militant Organizations, “Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb .” Stanford University, Last modified July 2018.
[14] Laura Torres Saavedra, "The demographic explosion in the Sahel region: its governance’s new challenge ", ieee.es, June 27 ,2019.
[15] Wolfram Lacher, “Organized crime and Conflicting the Sahel-Sahara Region,” The Carnegie Papers, September 2012.
[16] Another case is the Dar Fur region in Sudan, which contains all the above mentioned components of conflict: inter-state, ethnic (Arabs versus Africans, although both are Muslims), and struggle over control of resources in the natural environment between herders and farmers, regime usage of armed militias against its own citizens, and a domestic Muslim struggle has been feeding the conflict, leading the UN to declare the situation as Genocide. See, for example, Haim Koren, "Darfur within the Sudanese Fabric: Geographical, Historical, ethnological Religious and Political Aspects," in: A. Sofer (ed.) Refugees or Work Immigrants from African Countries, University of Haifa, December 2009. pp. 67-80 (in Hebrew).
[17] Lukas Rüttinger, Gerald Stang, Dan Smith, Dennis Tänzler, Janani Vivekananda et al., A New Climate for Peace – Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks (Berlin/London/Washington/Paris: Adelphi, 2015); Executive Summary, here.
[18] Carsten ten Brink, “Climate Institute, Risk resilience: Climate change and instability in the Sahel,” Climate Institute, October 2019.
[19] Ehud Sprinzak, “The Lone Gunmen: The Global War on Terrorism faces a New Brand of Enemy", Foreign Policy, Nov.-Dec. 2001, pp.72-73.

Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9884  (Research - Haim Koren&Gideon Behar: Security in the Shadow of Climate Change in the Sahel)

e-mail: ifimes@ifimes.org 


SEPTEMBAR, 2020








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Sociologist – Charles University, Prague. She is a Program manager – with the Culture for Peace Action Platform, and a marketing researcher in IPSOS CZ.




Chloé Bernadaux is an International Security specialist (Sciences Po Paris), prolifically writing on the neighbourhood policy, Euro-MED relations, and disarmament affairs. She is the IFIMES newly appointed representative in Paris (UNESCO).


Dr.Antonia Colibasanu is Geopolitical Futures’ Chief Operating Officer. She is responsible for overseeing all departments and marketing operations for the company. Dr. Colibasanu joined Geopolitical Futures as a senior analyst in 2016 and frequently speaks on international economics and security topics in Europe.